Received Date: 20/04/2020 • Accepted Date: 03/06/2020
The year 2019 set the stage for major developments in world politics and in Turkey’s domestic affairs. Although the year kicked off with a heated public debate on U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria, domestic politics soon became the center of attention in Turkey due to the March 31 municipal elections and a repeat election for İstanbul’s local government on June 23. Ahead of the municipal elections, public debate revolved around the question of national survival, with references to the various parties’ views on counter-terrorism, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call for a ‘Turkey Alliance,’ whereas the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) victories in İstanbul and Ankara emerged as a popular topic in the election’s aftermath. At the same time, the conflict in neighboring Syria remained the centerpiece of Turkey’s foreign policy agenda. That crisis played out in multiple dimensions that include Turkey’s bilateral cooperation and tensions with the United States and Russia, leader-to-leader diplomacy and a series of agreements. Tensions over Turkey’s decision to purchase the S-400 air defense system from Russia, the threat of economic sanctions and removal from the F-35 joint fighter program, speculations about the sanctions as a result of Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against Turkey, the Turkish-American agreement on a safe zone in northern Syria, and Operation Peace Spring made their mark on Turkey-U.S. relations. Other important items on Turkey’s diplomatic agenda included the G20, United Nations and NATO summits as well as agreements with Libya in the Eastern Mediterranean.